Readers’ views on PMO’s civil services reform, Shimla water shortage and more


Call for reform

With due respect, I want to draw the author’s attention to the weakening of this steel frame by its weak constituents – the officers who don’t deserve their posts (“PMO’s proposed changes in civil services allocation are an attempt to weaken India’s steel frame”). Many cases have come to light where IAS or IPS officers have struggled to pursue the path of justice and have come under the influence of political goons, thereby making a mockery of their posts. What I perceive is that Modi’s proposed reform will allow for analysing the character and suitability of the candidates. This will have some positive effects on the rusted steel frame. Change is necessary with time, for social consciousness and ultimately for progress. – Girish V


How has the author of this article jumped to the conclusion that the Modi regime has destroyed every notable institution in this country? This article is vague and biased, lacking any credible evidence. My advice to the author is that he stop Modi- bashing and instead furnish facts to make his claims admissible. This sort of biased approach does not befit an officer of his calibre. Whether the recommendations of the PMO will come into effect is subjected to debate. If it is found that the reforms go against the ideals of the so-called fathers of our hallowed country, I am sure they will not come into effect. – Bhaskar J Paul


Though elaborate and detailed, this article doesn’t spell out how the changes are going to damage the system. In the past too, under the UPA, such a system was adopted at the foundational course level, though in a different form. – Girish Dave


There is no need to fear that the institution will be damaged. All the central services are equally important. The Modi government has not proposed any changes to the selection process. The proposed reform only decides who will go to different central services. – NCS Reddy


All civil servants who did not take the foundation course seriously must be thinking differently now. This article does not make a convincing argument about how the IAS institution will be damaged if the marks of foundation course exam are considered during final allocation of departments. In my opinion, there should be no foundation course. Instead, the recruits should go to their respective departments for training. – Sanjay Shrivastava


The author seems to be resistant to change. The idea of a “committed bureaucracy” and the consequential controversial implementation of that was the beginning of the end of the upright bureaucracy that the author eulogises.

Civil servants failed to reign in the corruption in governance and are the perpetrators of a system that makes a mockery of the democratic process of government formation. Other than protecting their turfs, what have they achieved for the people? Do they even so much as respect the citizens charter that every public service mandates?

They are singularity responsible for the failure of the government system to deliver to the people the fruits of independence and development. They revel in their power and the ordinary people are pariahs who need to be kept away from the citadels of their power.

If India has to progress in the current millennium and catch up with the “developed world”, the bureaucracy needs to be overhauled and made accountable to the people, through methods such as the one the present government is proposing. Instead of objectively analysing the proposed reform, the author is doing his best to obfuscate the issue. – Mahadevan KV


The compassion shown in this essay is admirable but it lacks viable suggestions. People have many expectations from civil servants. They lead from the front and at the district level, people look to civil servants for everything. The civil services are the hidden strength of people of India when all other option becomes unviable. There is no match in the world to our public servants and the way they have served the country.

Our election commissioners conduct the world’s largest and most diverse elections with high degree of commitment to our democracy. Health initiatives that they have carried out, like polio eradication, are another example. Three months is too little time to gauge someone’s talents and commitment to particular field . They should be evaluated for at least five years. – Suresh Ray


I beg to differ with Harsh Mander on the subject. One can’t fear and oppose change. Why this apprehension that the changes will destroy the so-called steel frame of our country? What phenomenal achievement has this steel frame made this far? Isn’t the frame rusted?

Change is the only constant and in general, people are averse to it but that should not be the case. What is inevitable will happen and it always happens for the good. – Ranjan Mukherjee


Please give me one reason why the civil services or IAS should be continued. Which other country has such a service? The priorities are flawed. Officers are often incompetent and conceited, jacks of all trades but masters of none, and above all, corrupt to the bone. Other professions in this country, such as the corporate sector, are working far better. – Gautam Sen


I beg to differ from this opinion on the proposed reform in civil services. When the modalities of the reform haven’t been put forth, how can the author conclude that the changes have been made to serve the agenda of the RSS? Are the civil services to be considered sacrosanct? Can we not reform the civil servant leadership imposed by the British? – Arun Dutt


The prime minister is guided by RSS and has given command of almost all autonomous institutions to the Sangh. The RSS feels that India is their property and only Hinduism has right to prevail here. The prime minister and his ministers are supposed to rule India on the basic principles of the Constitution. But they have not spared any opportunity to weaken this Constitution. The strong frame of the civil services has kept the spirit of integrity in the country intact so far. If this institution is also handed over to RSS, the warning that Ambedkar gave to this country, of it losing its independence once again, will become a reality. If patriots want to preserve the cherished fabric and independence of the country, they should oppose the proposed change tooth and nail. – Gaware Shrikant


The writer only seems to be busy showing his intellectual superiority and resistance to change. It will be really bold on part of Modi to completely abolish the civil services instead of making incremental changes. The writer may not understand or appreciate out-of-the-box ideas. It is high time there is a complete overhaul in the civil services. To start with, mistakes must be met with removals instead of suspensions or transfers. – Anup Dwivedy


This is exactly what powerful civil servants have been doing to all the departments they handle. They can therefore only be handled by even more powerful democrats. Everyone knows many heads of a department nurture favouritism since they themselves reach creamy positions in the same way. Had this most powerful tribe of public servants been fearlessly fair to their duties, they would have earned widespread public support for their voice against this repression. The selection process for engineers, medical aspirants and many other exams has also been changed many times in the name of reform, which has multiplied the agony of these poor students. These civil servants did not raise their voices against those reforms introduced by every HRD minister and changed according to their whims. They even contributed to that process. Why should they expect support from the society with which most of them have failed to connect?

As mentioned in this article, this steel frame is rusted and weakened. Even if some individual rods in the frame have remained strong (a few officers like the author perhaps), the structure is bound to fall if it continues to weaken. – Rajeev Sharma


I am very impressed with this article. It is inspiring and depicts the true ideology of a civil servant. In today’s India, we need unity, integrity and fraternity among all religions and castes. We need People like this author to enlighten everyone. – Parvez Pathan

Shimla water crisis

The situation in Shima is a result of the shear callousness of technocrats, planners, bureaucrats and politicians (“Shimla water shortage: Water harvesting is the answer, not dependence on the state”). The water supply was probably designed by the British for a tiny population. The source of water should be augmented periodically as the town becomes increasingly urbanised.

The authorities concerned have also allowed untreated sewage water to be discharged in the open. For a full year, the government did not rectify the sewage treatment plant. This is a clear case of negligence and laxity. I don’t know if the scheme to supply additional water to Shimla from the Satluj River was implemented or is lying in the trash.

The Himachal Pradesh government should seek the help of central institutes to study the master plan of Shimla and prepare a a forecast of water demand for 50 years. They should then identify sources of supply along with plans for treatment and reuse of water, along with some measures for water harvesting and conservation. The agency responsible for the current blunder be made accountable, Forget the dream of smart cities. – Thakur NS


A more insulting or moronic suggestion would be difficult to imagine. A resort owner with large land area can think of implementing rain water harvesting. Most people don’t have any catchment area and the remaining few don’t have enough. Also, for the vast majority, finances are an issue. This is a job for the state and it should be held accountable. – Anil Manchanda


Shimla is one example of a gap in water availability versus the needs of people. There are many cities that are facing water stress to different degrees. It’s high time people wake up and become proactive in conservation and reuse of water. Bengaluru escaped water rationing by a whisker last summer. NGOS, administrators and people in general should gear up for the war on water shortages. A very effective outreach program is needed to wake people up from their slumber and the presumotion that water is an inexhaustible resource, or that it is the government’s responsibility to deliver this precious resource at their doorstep at nominal cost, come what may. – Shankar

Thoothukudi protests

I don’t know if shutting down the plant is the right decision (“Shutting Thoothukudi plant will hit India’s import bill, threaten 30,000 jobs, says Sterlite CEO”). Why can’t Sterlite comply with international standards on all rules and regulation? Such shortcut solution won’t work. The polluter must pay and this should be made applicable to every industry who is polluting Mother Earth. – George VJ


Every arm of the government is either blind, deaf, dumb, or all the three. It listens only when people like Kapil Sibal or Subramanian Swamy shout. It sees only when political parties speak. But ultimately it is the nation and the environment that are seriously degraded. The present generation should think of handing over a world that is at least as good as what they received from their forefathers, if not better. Not doing so will be unpardonable. But the arms of the government are not working in unison. Ultimately, the result is agitations like that in Thoothukudi.

Most protests are organised by selfish fringe political parties for their political survival and they indulge in pure vandalism and destruction. The result is the loss of human lives. In India, every group involved in protests invariably indulges in looting and destruction of public property. Under those circumstances, it is not fair to blame the administration for its action. When everyone and everything has gone beyond redeemable limits, why blame civil administration alone? – PD Amarnath

Citizenship Bill

For decades, the North East has been neglected by Delhi (“The Daily Fix: Assam protests should persuade Centre to reconsider the citizenship bill”). The Centre has not made sincere efforts over genuine demands from this region. Illegal immigration is one of the big problems in the area, which has threatened the identity of ethnic groups. In Assam, a mass movement led to the Assam Accord being signed for expulsion of illegal immigrants. But no concrete action has been taken. The BJP government at the Centre now is trying it’s best to invite foreign nationals to Assam for their vested interestes, by amending the Citizenship Bill, only to create a Hindu vote bank. We request the Centre to scrap this Bill in the interest of the North East region. – Chitra Kumar Hazarika

Reading room

The concept of an open garden library is novel and reader-friendly as it promises to bring reading back into the life of common people (“A new open garden library in Mumbai is attracting an array of eager readers”). Children will now have access to literature especially meant for them. Nowadays reading has taken a backseat and the television has turned the people, children in particular, into couch potatoes. Kudos to the people behind this initiative. – Samiul Hassan Quadri

War of words

Chandrabu Naidu should keep in mind Amit Shah’s stature as the president of the BJP, which leads the NDA government at the Centre, and a Rajya Sabha MP, before making such comments (“‘Who is Amit Shah to question state’s use of funds?’ Andhra Pradesh CM Naidu lashes out at BJP chief”). Has Naidu forgotten that till recently, he was an ally of the BJP? Speaking against the party now is akin to burning the boat that helped you cross the river. Naidu has been in politics for quite a long time. He should be mature enough to be courteous to others. Power seems to have gone to his head, and he doesn’t like criticism. – L Satyanarayana


BJP will lose not only Andhra Pradesh but neighbouring states as well. Telugu people all over the country resent this attitude. – Muralikrishna Vasireddi


Chandrababu Naidu met his match in Modi and Amit Shah, who were able to outsmart him at his own game, unlike Atal Bihari Vajpayee who fell for his tricks. TDP enjoyed five full years in the NDA before calling the BJP a communal party. This time too, Naidu is playing the same trick. The NDA has won round two hands down. – Sudhir Rai

Pulse of the nation

The government’s claims that they had to import dal due to WTO commitments are false (“In a first for India, dal millers will soon be able to import pulses”). The government had also similarly destroyed natural rubber farmers by allowing large-scale import of natural rubber from Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand despite a warning from the Rubber Board that domestic producers would lose out. About 98% of natural rubber is produced by Kerala, a state which has rejected the BJP. Let us wait and see what happens with pulses. If this continues, domestic producers will suffer, as will buyers. –Theyyottuchira Kammusoofi Jaram


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